My understanding is that all of the QR codes being scanned by Chinese users in WeChat are actually just encoding plain old URLs. I'm not a WeChat user, but this suggests to me that if I (painfully) handed out the big long WeChat URL for my restaurant or taxi or whatever, and the end user cared to enter it, the QR code would not be needed.

Is this true for most uses of QR codes ? They are just encoding URLs ?

I see that the Animal Crossing videogame allows users to pick up new designs by scanning QR codes - are those also encoded URLs ?

Or, is there broad adoption of QR codes for encoding other information not in URL format ?


2 Answers 2


The advantage of using URLs instead of 'plain text content' is that you can use them in multiple situations:

  • users who don't know of your application/service (probably the majority out there) can be redirected to a website with information about it; all smartphones support opening URLs from QR codes
  • users who have your application installed can be redirected to your application/service from any QR scanner on their smartphone (through things like custom URL schemes and universal links)
  • finally, it can also be used with the application's built-in scanner

Non-URL codes which aren't universally accepted can only fulfill the third role.

That said, there are several universally accepted types of non-URL QR codes. The last one I used was a Wifi QR code.


A QR code makes it simple to scan in a URL both technologically and for the user.

  • The QR symbol is easily recognizable to anyone in the world. There isn't any need to indicate "Scan here" to the user.
  • The QR symbol can be made quite large, or quite small, in a way that wouldn't work with a website address.
  • Visually it functions very well in places like China and Japan in which "seals" are still quite commonplace.

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